In previous blogs, I explained how the California Regional Center System provides long-term medical expenses including personal assistant services, durable medical equipment, long term therapies, and maintenance drugs to people with developmental disabilities regardless of their income or assets. Now the Regional Center System is implementing a Self Determination Program (SDP). This program should be the model for providing Independent Living Services to all people with disabilities in all states!
The Self Determination Program will enable participants to have control of their annual Independent Living Services budget and manage their own personal assistant services, as well as their educational, vocational, and community involvement plans. Participants are required to use a Financial Management Service (FMS) to perform financial matters. The FMS may be used just to pay bills, or be a co-employer with the SDP participant, or be the employer-of-record for the SDP participant's staff. The SDP participant is required to create and maintain an annual Person-Centered Plan (PCP) where they outline their goals and objectives and explain how their budget will be used to achieve their plans. Participants may hire independent facilitators to help them prepare and follow through with their projects and budgets. Participant's Regional Center's caseworker will review plans and budget to help to ensure they meet labor laws, SDP guidelines and that nothing has been omitted.
Currently, Denise and I get our personal assistant services through Thrive Support Services. They have been great to work with. They enable us to find, train, and manage our own attendants. We have created our own Self Determination Program. It will be useful to have full control of our budget and our attendants' schedule and not be constrained by some of the rules a Supportive Living Services Provider must enforce. For example, our attendants must clock in and out from within our house. I am hoping Thrive Support Services will be our Financial Management Services Provider when SDP starts.
To date, the Regional Center of the East Bay (RCEB) has focused mainly on preparing participants on how to create PCPs. More emphasis is needed on the financial and liability aspects. Participants that use personal assistant services need to have guidelines regarding wages, fringe benefits, training, time off, emergency services, insurance, etc.
Currently, many people with disabilities are unemployed and live in poverty as a way of qualifying to receive healthcare and long-term medical expenses they need to survive. Given that the government is already paying these expenses, it is hypothesized that rolling out a Self Determination Program to everyone that needs it may not incur more costs. If more people with disabilities become employed, the taxes they pay may result in overall cost-savings. Providing the Self Determination Program to people with mental health disabilities may be one way of combating the homelessness crisis many cities are facing, especially if independent facilitators and personal assistants are available and well trained.
I have a great deal of hope that the Self Determination Program is the next major accomplishment for the Disability Movement. Let me know what you think. How can we promote this program?
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